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Sheffield expects to be ready for March

New York Yankees: Yankees outfielder Gary Sheffield is
making progress in his rehabilitation program following shoulder
surgery and expects to be ready for spring training next month.

Sheffield had surgery on his left shoulder Nov. 30 and is taking
part in an indoor workout program at the Yankees' spring training
complex.

"I'll be ready," Sheffield said Monday. "I feel like I'm
ahead of schedule. It's coming along good."

Sheffield hit .290 with 36 homers and 121 RBI in his first
season with New York. He is pleased with the team's pending
acquisition of Cy Young Award winner Randy Johnson and other pitching upgrades.

"I'm definitely excited," Sheffield said. "With our offense,
we feel like we can accomplish anything. We tried to jump a big
hurdle last year, we had a lot of pitchers injured. Unfortunately,
our offense wasn't able to take us all the way through."

Toronto Blue Jays: Free agent right-hander Billy Koch agreed
to a $900,000, one-year contract to return to the Blue Jays.

He went 1-1 with eight saves and a 5.40 ERA in 24 games with the
Chicago White Sox last year, then was dealt to Florida for a minor
league prospect and cash on June 17. He went 1-2 with a 3.51 ERA in
23 games with the Florida Marlins.

Koch, 30, was the Blue Jays' first-round selection and fourth
pick overall in the 1996 amateur draft. He spent his first three
seasons with Toronto and has 163 career saves and a 3.89 ERA.

General manager J.P.Ricciardi expressed interest in Koch at the winter meetings but said at the time that the right-hander likely wouldn't figure in the closer's role.

Now, Koch likely will compete for the closer's job with Jason Frasor, who saved 17 games for Toronto last year.

Los Angeles Dodgers: Catcher Paul Bako reached a preliminary
agreement on a $650,000, one-year contract, a deal that allows him
to earn an additional $100,000 in performance bonuses.

Bako played for the Chicago Cubs the past two years, hitting
.229 in 2003 and .203 last season. He figures to share the catching
position with David Ross.

The Dodgers figure to announce a couple more moves during the
next few days to pretty much complete their offseason overhaul.

The Dodgers' $36 million, four-year agreement with postseason
hero Derek Lowe probably will be finalized Tuesday, with an
introductory news conference the following day. Lowe said Sunday
that he was flying to Los Angeles from his home in Florida for a
physical Monday.

And the trade of Shawn Green to the Arizona Diamondbacks for
catching prospect Dioner Navarro and three minor league pitchers
also was pending. The Dodgers were holding off on Lowe's deal until
the Green trade was completed.

"I certainly like the way things are coming together right
now," general manager Paul DePodesta said. "There's been a lot of
upheaval. It's been in the interest of long-term stability."

New York Mets: Infielder Miguel Cairo and the Mets finalized their $900,000, one-year contract. The club also agreed to a $2.1 million, one-year deal with pitcher Victor Zambrano, their last remaining player eligible for salary arbitration.

Cairo, 30, spent last season with the Yankees, at first platooning with Enrique Wilson at second base. Cairo became the regular starter during the second half of the season and hit .292 with six homers, 42 RBI and 11 steals.

"I'm excited about joining the Mets," Cairo said. "I like the
direction the team is going in. I know [new manager] Willie
Randolph from my days with the Yankees. He's a winner and I know
he's going to make the Mets into winners."

Cairo made $1.05 million last season and sought a two-year deal
from the Yankees. But instead, they signed a $4 million, two-year
contract with Tony Womack, who started at second base last year
with the St. Louis Cardinals.

With the Mets, Cairo will back up shortstop Jose Reyes and
second baseman Kaz Matsui.

Zambrano, acquired July 30 from Tampa Bay in the trade that sent
left-hander Scott Kazmir to the Devil Rays, was 2-0 with a 3.86 ERA
in three games with the Mets before missing the rest of the season
because of a strained right flexor muscle. He was 9-7 with a 3.86
ERA in 22 starts and one relief appearance with the Devil Rays.

He made $335,000 last season and was eligible for arbitration
for the first time.

Pittsburgh Pirates: Right-hander Todd Ritchie returned to the Pirates, agreeing to a minor league contract that will be worth $350,000 if he pitches in the majors this season.

The deal includes $550,000 in performance bonuses that should be reachable if the 32-year-old Ritchie is in Pittsburgh's rotation.

Ritchie was 35-32 with Pittsburgh from 1999-2001, going 15-9 in 1999. He was traded to the White Sox with minor leaguer Lee Evans
for right-handers Kip Wells, Josh Fogg and Sean Lowe. Wells and Fogg remain in Pittsburgh's rotation.

He was 5-15 with a 6.06 ERA in 2002 with the White Sox, then started the Brewers' 2003 home opener but hurt his rotator cuff.

Ritchie, 32, was limited to five appearances for Milwaukee that season and four for Tampa Bay in 2004, going 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA in eight innings for the Devil Rays.

Pittsburgh also agreed to minor league contracts with catcher-infielder Edwards Guzman, infielder Cesar Crespo and right-hander Kevin Olsen.

Florida Marlins: The Marlins will be now playing their games in Dolphins Stadium, Miami Dolphins owner Wayne Huizenga said.

The name change takes place nearly five years after Huizenga
unsuccessfully began seeking a new naming-rights sponsor for the
ballpark. Pro Player signed a 10-year, $20 million deal with the
Dolphins in 1996, but the sports apparel company was bought out
five years ago.

A new management company -- Dolphins Enterprises LLC -- is being created. A CEO for that company will be named shortly, Huizenga
said. The CEO will report directly to Huizenga, as will new coach Nick
Saban.

The first phase of the makeover may include new scoreboards,
remodeled suites, new exhibition space, additional parking and a
new traffic flow around the ballpark, at an estimated cost of $100
million to $125 million.

Other remodeling plans would not begin until the Marlins leave the stadium. The Marlins hope to be playing in a new downtown Miami ballpark by 2008, and their lease with the stadium expires in 2010. They have been told their lease will not be renewed.

The second phase might include a permanent or retractable roof -- something the Marlins have said is a prerequisite for their new ballpark and is critical to their long-term viability in South Florida.

Marlins keep lefty in pen: The Marlins re-signed left-hander Matt Perisho, who led the team in appearances last season, to a one-year, $475,000 contract.

Perisho, 29, was 5-3 with a 4.40 ERA in 66 games in 2004. He made two more appearances than former closer Armando Benitez and was second in holds with 10 and third in innings pitched with 47.

Signed by the Marlins as a free agent in December 2003, Perisho has a career record of 9-17 with a 6.60 ERA in 152 major league games.

Arizona Diamondbacks- Chicago Cubs: The Diamondbacks traded left-hander
Stephen Randolph to the Cubs for a player to be
named.

Randolph, 30, was 10-6 with a 4.89 ERA in 95 games -- mostly as a
reliever -- over the past two seasons. He was 8-1 with a 4.05 ERA in
50 games in 2003. Last season, Randolph was 2-5 with a 5.51 ERA in
45 appearances, including six starts.

Chicago White Sox: The club acquired minor league first
baseman Travis Hinton from the Brewers,
completing the four-player trade that sent Carlos Lee to the
Brewers.

In last month's deal, Milwaukee got Lee from the White Sox for
center fielder Scott Podsednik, reliever Luis Vizcaino and a player
to be named.

The 24-year-old Hinton led Class A High Desert in the California
League in most offensive categories last year, batting .302 with 36
doubles, 22 homers, 88 RBI and 80 runs scored in 137 games.

Miceli signs in Japan
Reliever Dan Miceli will pitch in Japan next
season, agreeing to a one-year contract with the Yomiuri
Giants.

The right-handed free agent went 6-6 with two saves and a 3.59
ERA for the Astros last year.

Miceli, who is expected to be the Giants' closer, is 41-48 with
35 saves and a 4.47 ERA over 12 major league seasons.

The deal was thought to be worth $1.7 million but team officials
could not confirm the monetary details.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.